The Government is being urged to launch a co-ordinated assault on so-called “suckers lists”, used to target vulnerable consumers, by introducing measures which would allow the sharing of data between trading standards departments, police forces and the financial services industry.
Suckers lists are made up of repeat victims of direct marketing scams – such as fake competitions and lotteries – and can contain highly personal information, such as full names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, and even dates of birth and bank details.
It has been estimated that around one million UK consumers – mostly elderly people who live alone – are on these lists and are regularly bombarded with bogus communications, mainly via telemarketing and mailshots.
Over 3.6 million frauds were perpetrated against victims in England and Wales alone last year, according to the Office of National Statistics, and it is estimated that fraud against vulnerable people alone costs the UK over £10bn a year – and rising.
The data sharing plan is one of a set of proposals included in a new report from think tank Demos, commissioned by fraud prevention service Cifas.
The report highlights that people with impaired mental capacity – for example caused by injury, mental health crisis or dementia – are increasingly being targeted by fraudsters. Fraud is also made easier by the financial services industry’s drive to provide frictionless transactions.
It states: “As the arms race between fraudsters and the rest of society accelerates in the digital age, the harm caused to this group will become all the more pronounced.”
Demos recommends that, when police or trading standards departments discover sucker lists they should share them, and collaboratively reach out to the people named to provide protection.
It recommends that police and financial services firms should establish an intelligence sharing hub, allowing information to be accessed by banks and building societies to inform their own prevention tools and techniques. It should also be shared with Cifas to help inform its data analytic capabilities for identifying fraud.
Last year, the UK’s leading direct mail companies pledged to share intelligence on scam mailings and work together with law enforcement agencies to terminate illegal content.
The move was in response to a long-running campaign by Marilyn Baldwin, who founded the “Think Jessica” charity in memory of her mother who was a victim of multiple scams.
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